Historical Site

Our Visit to Mount Rushmore and Theodore Roosevelt National Park

A Quick Trip to the Northern Plains
Lodging Review: Home2 Suites by Hilton Rapid City, SD
Our Visit to the Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park
Our Visit to Mount Rushmore and Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Lodging Review: TownePlace Suites, Dickinson, North Dakota
Lodging Review: Fairfield Inns & Suites, Chicago O’Hare

After a lunch break in the small town of Custer, which is right outside the Custer State Park, we continued our loop toward Mount Rushmore. By early afternoon the the sky had darkened and the wind had picked up but it wasn’t too cold. But that would change in the 40 minute drive to Mount Rushmore.

The route to Mount Rushmore from Custer is primarily on a two-lane road that goes up and over some of the Black Hills in the region. Though I knew that the presidents’ faces were carved high up on a mountain I just assumed that the only way to view them was to actually enter the National Monument area. It hadn’t occurred to me that there may be other vantage points from which the faces could be seen. Taking the route we did, we happened upon one of those points. There was a small parking lot along with trail indicators. Walking to the end of the short trail there’s actually a very nice view of Mount Rushmore. Again I wished I’d already upgraded my phone just to get better photos!

Mount Rushmore from afar

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Our Visit to the Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park

A Quick Trip to the Northern Plains
Lodging Review: Home2 Suites by Hilton Rapid City, SD
Our Visit to the Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park
Our Visit to Mount Rushmore and Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Lodging Review: TownePlace Suites, Dickinson, North Dakota
Lodging Review: Fairfield Inns & Suites, Chicago O’Hare

We had one full day in the Rapid City area and we packed it pretty full. Fortunately the summer crush had not yet begun so we didn’t have issues with traffic or overcrowding. That also meant summer weather wasn’t in full effect. There was a wind advisory in effect until 2:30 PM on the day of our visit, something that wasn’t an issue early in the day but became one as the day progressed.

Crazy Horse Memorial

We started the day at the Crazy Horse Memorial, which is the world’s largest mountain carving and was about an hour away from our hotel. In 1939, Henry Standing Bear, an Oglala Lakota chief enlisted the help of Korczak Ziolkowski (who had assisted Gutzon Borglum at Mount Rushmore) to begin the process of carving famed Lakota warrior Crazy Horse on his horse into Thunderhead Mountain, land considered sacred to the Lakota. There are no known photographs of Crazy Horse, who resisted having his photo taken. Work began in 1948 and is still underway. Ziolkowski twice turned down multi-million dollar government grants to ensure there was no interference with the vision he and Standing Bear had. The project is funded solely on admission fees, gift shop purchases and private donations.

One of the best views of memorial – without paying extra to take the shuttle down closer – is from the upper parking lot. We were fortunate that even though it was windy, the temperature was warm enough that a light fleece jacket was all that was needed that morning.

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Categories: Attraction Review, Historical Site, North America, South Dakota, Trip Report, United States | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

A Quick Trip to the Northern Plains: Introduction

A Quick Trip to the Northern Plains
Lodging Review: Home2 Suites by Hilton Rapid City, SD
Our Visit to the Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park
Our Visit to Mount Rushmore and Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Lodging Review: TownePlace Suites, Dickinson, North Dakota
Lodging Review: Fairfield Inns & Suites, Chicago O’Hare

Due to not taking my usual two-week international vacation in the fall of 2021, I found myself with some extra vacation days to use before my company’s fiscal year ended. My two travel pals and I had not all been together since our trip to New Zealand and Australia in the fall of 2019 so we were all glad to get to be together again. In the past we’d discussed domestic trips we’d like to do but had just never gotten around to so this seemed a good time of year to explore the Dakotas a bit.

Despite doing a road trip around the Southeastern US about a year ago, I’m not a huge fan of road trips. I’d rather fly and get a car. Flights into Rapid City, SD aren’t exactly cheap and my friend from Chicago said she’d be driving anyway, so we decided my LA-based friend and I would fly to Chicago and we’d all spend a little quality time together on the way out and back.

Driving there and back was an all-day affair each way. With a very early morning start we drove from the WSW suburbs of Chicago to Rapid City, SD with a sit-down lunch break and a few gas stops and arrived around 4 PM. On our return, we left Dickinson, ND just after 7 AM and arrived at an O’Hare-area hotel right at 10 PM with only a brief stop to grab-and-go some lunch and a few more gas stops. Rapid City and Dickinson are both on Mountain Time so while we gained an hour going there, we lost an hour coming back.

We save our points to use on vacation so even if this wasn’t the best use of points or certificates we got to stay free which was most important to us. We stayed at a Home2 Suites by Hilton in Rapid City on points, a TownePlace Suites in Dickinson and the Fairfield Inn & Suites O’Hare, both using Marriott free-night certificates that otherwise would have gone unused.

In between we visited the Crazy Horse Memorial, Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Our weather ran the gamut from sunny and pleasant to windy with sleet/snow.

As the whole trip was less than a week and we really only had two days on the ground, it’s a pretty quick trip report.

Categories: Fairfield Inn, Hilton, Historical Site, Home2Suites, Illinois, Marriott, North America, North Dakota, Road Trip, South Dakota, TownePlace Suites, Trip Report, United States | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Time in Queenstown including Doubtful Sound Tour

Trip Report: Two Weeks Down Under
Flight Review: Qantas B747-400 San Francisco – Sydney
Lounge Review: Qantas Business Class Lounge, Sydney
Flight Review: Qantas A330-300 Sydney – Auckland
Lodging Review: Holiday Inn Auckland Airport
Lodging Review: The Pavilions Hotel, Christchurch
Our Time in Christchurch
Lodging Review: Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa
Our Time in Queenstown including Doubtful Sound Tour
Lodging Review: Avani Metropolis, Auckland
Our Time in Auckland
Lodging Review: Oceans Mooloolaba
Our Time on the Sunshine Coast
Lodging Review: Brisbane Marriott
Flight Review: Qantas B787-9 Brisbane – Los Angeles

In July 2006 I traveled to New Zealand with a ski group and we spent several days in Queenstown. We took a couple of day trips out to ski resorts but spent time in the cute town as well so I was excited to return. Unfortunately we did not have great weather during our visit and I’m bummed my friends did not get to enjoy the town as I did.

Despite it being spring (late October) it was still pretty chilly and rainy. The day we arrived it was quite cool and while we carried umbrellas with us, at least we didn’t need them. We spent an hour or two wandering the streets, popping into stores that struck our fancy and we booked our tour of Doubtful Sound for two days later.

Mum always told you to cross the street at the zebra crossing!

This is a Moa, which became extinct about 200 million years ago and was the largest flying animal in NZ and the tallest bird in the world.

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Categories: Historical Site, New Zealand, Oceania, Tours, UNESCO World Heritage Site | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Visiting Dachau

Trip Report: Amsterdam, Iceland and Munich
Review: Iberia A340-600 Business Class
Review: Kimpton DeWitt Amsterdam
A Brief Tour of Amsterdam
Review: Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel and Conference Center
Review: Radisson Blu 1919, Reykjavik
Review: Center Hotel Plaza, Reykjavik
A Week in Iceland
Review: aloft Munich
Visiting Dachau
A Brief Tour of Munich
Review: Hilton Munich Airport

I must admit I was originally a little hesitant about visiting Dachau, a former Nazi concentration camp. I was concerned the horror of what had occurred there would be too overwhelming. But I decided it was something important I needed to do and I’m very glad I visited.

Getting There

It’s quite easy to reach the city of Dachau from Munich, especially since we were already at the main train station. We took the S2 train to Dachau, which is about a 25-minute ride. Then we caught the 726 bus to the camp entrance. The site is open from 9 AM to 5 PM each day except Christmas Eve. If you’re using public transport, I would try to arrive either right at 9 AM or wait until midday. We arrived in the city of Dachau mid-morning as did several tour groups. They filled up the first bus that arrived so we had to wait awhile for the next one on the route. But the bus does let you out right at the front entrance to the camp.

Services

In the Visitors Center you’ll find the ticket counter, restrooms, the cafeteria and the bookshop. We had a snack in the cafeteria after we toured the site and found that not only do they have typical snack foods, they also had hot meals available.

If you’re not with a group you can join a 2.5 hour guided tour for just €3.50. Tour times depend on which language the guide will be speaking. Audio guides come in a number of languages and are available for €4. Along with the guide booklet, you can go at your own pace and as you come to an exhibit that interests you, just enter the exhibit’s number into the guide and it will tell you about what you’re seeing.

There is a free film included with your admission. The theater is located in what was once the maintenance building and is now the exhibition space. The film runs about 20-25 minutes and is shown every half hour. Check the times to be able to view it in the language of your choice. Minimum age for the film is 14 (excluding babies) as there are, obviously, disturbing images of the camp victims. Continue reading

Categories: Europe, Germany, Historical Site | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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